janzin

Can one have too much time in the Masai Mara! A resounding NO! Safari Sept 2016

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Your (im)patience paid off - the flying LBR is a thing of beauty!

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Posted (edited)

Great stuff @janzin.

 

I forgot to ask - did you use the photographer's hide at Encounter Mara?   If so, how was it?

Edited by offshorebirder

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8 hours ago, offshorebirder said:

Great stuff @janzin.

 

I forgot to ask - did you use the photographer's hide at Encounter Mara?   If so, how was it?

 

@offshorebirder I did visit the hide but it was always during the mid-day break, and to be honest there wasn't much going on. The photo of the African Pygmy Kingfisher was taken from that hide, but I didn't get anything else. There was a Hammerkop that was always lurking in the grass but never got a decent shot! There was more activity around the water feature/birdbath which was near the lounge area.

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On 6/28/2017 at 10:03 AM, janzin said:

secretary_bird_0623a.jpg

 

 

These are my favorite birds of Africa!

 

 

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On 6/30/2017 at 3:33 PM, janzin said:

Getting right into the good stuff in Naboisho.... one late afternoon we came upon this beautiful leopardess, Osirata. (Apparently now she has cubs!) She was just resting but allowed for some lovely portraits.

 

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However, her rest was soon disturbed by a lion nearby. She became very wary...

 

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As the lions approached, she scrambled up a tree. The light was really fading so photography was problematic.

 

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The lions--there were actually three of them--came around and plopped themselves right by the tree. (No photos as it was almost dark by now.)  We left her up there and I was actually a bit concerned for her welfare. But she was seen again the next morning (not by us); apparently unscathed.

 

So that's leopard #4....

So happy you saw Osirata I've read reports she is starting to press into Fig's territory.

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Thanks @Lyss 

 

Any idea who the leopard is in post #100?

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53 minutes ago, janzin said:

Thanks @Lyss 

 

Any idea who the leopard is in post #100?

I'm looking into it but I don't have any folders on my computer or in the Leopard group for him. He looks familiar, but the whisker pattern is the wrong side for who I initially thought of.. He's gorgeous though. Hope to find something out for you. :) 

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Osirata had a juvenile (good sized, not a tiny thing) male cub with her in Feb 2016, could it be him?  I never heard what happened to him after we left.  I have two head shots of him in my gallery but am not adept enough at matching markings to tell.

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@amybatt I am pretty hopeless at matching markings as well. I can stare at two photos which I know are different leopards or cheetahs and yet still not see the differences, unless there is something obvious like a cut ear or scar. :(

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We reluctantly left the lovely leopard and continued on our way. But we weren't done with leopards quite yet!

 

Sometime after lunch we came upon another stream bed with dense trees. Ping thought there might be a leopard lurking, so we spent some time driving up and around it. Much to our surprise, after not too long what do we see...

 

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Another young leopard! It was mid-day hot, and we didn't expect him to move for awhile, but we waited a bit.

 

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We drove around to the other side of the stream, hoping for a better angle, but it was not to be. This was the best view we could get. We actually couldn't even tell if this was a male or female, as it never moved. But we were still thrilled with Leopard #6!

 

While waiting around in this area, we had a couple of other interesting sightings. This massive hippo was cooling off in the "forest" not far from the leopard. He made me a little nervous ;) although he wasn't as close as he looks--there was a deep gully between us.

 

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There was also a lovely Double-collared Sunbird that entertained us while we waited for some movement from the leopard.

 

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The rest of the drive held some other interesting bird life, although the mid-day sun was not helping with photography.

 

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We came upon a really violent scene--two Marabou storks squabbling! It was pretty nasty with locked beaks and feathers flying!  Unfortunately, again the light was harsh but these photos weren't for beauty anyway :)

 

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There were still a few more treats in store for us before we reached Enaidura Camp.

 

As we entered the Mara Reserve, before we crossed into the Triangle, we found the first of our Mara cheetahs!

 

With three cubs! I believe this may be the famous Malaika although I'm not 100% sure. Perhaps some of you may recognize her :) There were at least three cubs, its possible we didn't even see another behind her. She was distant (this is with the 1.4 TC on the 200-500mm, and cropped quite a bit) and of course there was a lot of haze at this distance. Because it was in the Reserve, where you cannot off-road, there was no way to approach any more closely.

 

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Shortly thereafter we crossed into the Mara Triangle.  But there was one more special sighting on this long, but super productive day. 

 

The light was just about gone but we got to see our first Mara Rhino.

 

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Notice the small rectangle in the horn...that is a microchip which is used to track the rhinos in this area.

 

After that satisfying day we were eager to find our camp, have a hot bucket shower and a good dinner!

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The Mara Triangle and Enaidura Camp

 

We had entered the Triangle through the Oloololo gate and proceeded down the main road to our mobile camp site. (The Rhino area was somewhere between the gate and our camp.) The map below gives you an idea of the location of the campsites along the Mara River and their relation to a couple of the main crossing points (the red triangles.)

 

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Being a mobile camp, the Enaidura site might change from guest to guest. In fact, Ping originally thought we were at the first site of the group of three indicated on the map, Dirisha. We drove into the site (it was nearly dark by now) but were surprised to find no one home--in fact nothing set up! It looked like a lovely site though, from what we could see. ;)

 

Well on the 2nd attempt we found our camp, at the Maji Ya Ndege site, indicated on the map above. We were warmly greeted by the staff of about 10--just for us! We were to be the only guests for our four nights. We were shown to our comfortable, well appointed tent. I have reviewed the camp separately but will reiterate a bit here.

 

In the morning we could see that we were set up in a grove of lovely tall trees, right alongside the river.

 

 

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It was well appointed inside, spacious with lots of air--screens on all sides--and ample lighting. There was a power strip by the bed for charging, which seemed to provide plenty of power for my camera batteries and iPad.  There was even wifi--courtesy of Ping, who lent us his mobile hot-spot a few times. Otherwise there was wifi available in the dining tent, but Ping's personal hot-spot worked better.

 

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Behind the bed area was a very spacious dressing area with sink, toilet and of course the bucket shower. We had plenty of hot water for the shower and there was even hot water in the sink in the morning.

 

The bucket for the shower!

 

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There was a large dining tent and the food was simply amazing, especially given that it was all cooked in a portable kitchen. The chef was a delight! Each dinner and lunch was multi-course and always varied,  chicken and fish dishes, lunches of pizza, quiches, a chicken curry, always with lots of accompanying salads. Even a cheese plate one lunch! Great desserts and chocolates by your bedside at night.

 

The dining tent

 

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You can read more about the camp and see lots more photos here http://enaiduracamp.com/

 

The camp was of course right on the Mara river, although the only wildlife we saw from the actual river overlook was this giant crocodile. One morning, the staff said they heard a leopard, but we couldn't locate it.

 

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Surprisingly, although there were many birds around the camp, due to the very tall trees most were difficult to photograph. I actually only have one decent bird photo from inside the camp itself--but it was a lifer!

 

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However, the road into the camp traversed a marshy area, which was filled with storks and herons...and sometimes beasts...every morning and afternoon.

 

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6 hours ago, janzin said:

leopard_JZ5_2378a.thumb.jpg.ea37cbf2fbcc6c560e8df2726f3ca5f1.jpg

 

Another young leopard! It was mid-day hot, and we didn't expect him to move for awhile, but we waited a bit.

 

leopard_JZ5_2389a.thumb.jpg.6ec807653816904b8c3e5be4ba13ac54.jpg

 

We drove around to the other side of the stream, hoping for a better angle, but it was not to be. This was the best view we could get. We actually couldn't even tell if this was a male or female, as it never moved. But we were still thrilled with Leopard #6!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

@janzin I know who this one is. I've not figured out the male though he could definitely be one of many that doesn't have a name. This cat though. I do know. Those eyes are unmistakable. That is Kaboso's daughter. Kaboso also is known as the Double Crossing Female by some guides.

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Thanks for the camp photos...they help to put everything in context.

 

Whether Malaika or not, a nice sighting!

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Nice camp to have all to yourself and, more importantly, more neat sightings - pretty good for an inter.camp transfer drive!

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5 hours ago, Lyss said:

 

@janzin I know who this one is. I've not figured out the male though he could definitely be one of many that doesn't have a name. This cat though. I do know. Those eyes are unmistakable. That is Kaboso's daughter. Kaboso also is known as the Double Crossing Female by some guides.

 

Wow thanks that's great to know. What a beautiful cat! (well, all leopards are beautiful...!)

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You're very welcome. I was so happy I could help since the male I don't have an idea of.

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So of course on our first full day in the Triangle, the goal was to see a river crossing. The herds were massing on the eastern banks of the river, concentrating around the two points that are seen on the map in the prior post. One of these is the famous "cul de sac" point, I'm not sure about the name of the other one.

 

Ping had heard (I am not sure how, possibly by phone to another guide) that there was no activity yet, so we decided to start the morning by heading back to the rhino area to see if we could get some in better light. In retrospect, perhaps this was a mistake, as we missed out on getting the "best" vantage point for a crossing, but we really didn't want to sit for hours and hours in the heat waiting. Anyway, we found no rhinos (where were they hiding? Its not such a large area!) But in terms of birds it was definitely a winner.

 

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But as the sun got higher, we decided we'd better get over to the first crossing area.

 

I think when it comes to the river crossings, its either a "love it" or "hate it" situation. I know there are many people--including some of you here on SafariTalk--who return to the Mara over and over specifically to see and photograph the river crossings. There are also many who will avoid them at all costs--whether it be due to the crowds, the frustration of waiting, or the suffering of the animals. For the longest time I really had no desire to see a crossing, it was very low down on my Africa wishlist--for all of the above reasons. But once we decided to come to the Mara, I felt that we should come at the opportune time to experience a crossing--and discover once and for all whether we  were "lovers" or "haters."

 

I'll relate our experiences before presenting my conclusions!

 

We arrived at the first crossing point and we actually didn't have such a bad spot. There were several other vehicles but there was room for us to squeeze between and get a "front row" seat; although not with the best angle. We were lucky to have a good spot; there were many more vehicles watching from the other side of the river.

 

(iphone photo with lots of heat haze)

 

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Thankfully it wasn't as crowded on our side...yet.

 

There were a good number of animals waiting to cross--not a huge group, but enough!

 

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One disappointment at this spot was that I could see that there were no dramatic cliffs here...just gentle slopes; in fact as you can see here it was a relatively easy stroll into the water. So there would be no leaping wildebeest here, none of those dramatic photos I'd seen. Also, because of the recent rains, it wasn't really that dusty! So no herds in the clouds of dust! Ping told us that those cliffs were actually at points much further south along the river, and that the herds were not there at this time. Oh well.

 

After not too long, some of the zebras started across.

 

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Followed by the Wildebeest. Notice a dead one already in the water...he must have been there from an earlier crossing. :(  (Be sure to click to see the full size images.)

 

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Unfortunately, because of our position, I could not get any photos of them exiting the water...we were blocked on that side by some bushes and the position of the land. After awhile, the crossing at this point seemed to be over. We decided to go to the point just to our south. We could see other vehicles already heading over there.

 

Well, when we got there, we were too late to get a good position.

 

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Ugh! We tried for awhile but there was no vantage point, so we all agreed to try our luck elsewhere. We still had two more full days to see more crossings (although I was already not so sure I cared :unsure:

 

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After a delicious lunch, the word from Ping's contacts was that no crossings were imminent; there were no big herds gathered; so we opted to see what else we might find. We drove towards the escarpment; there had been cheetah reported in that area earlier in the day.

 

Well, unfortunately the cheetah eluded us that afternoon, but the light was sweet and the vista was gorgeous. Who needs sitting at river crossings when you have this? (Click to enlarge, this one really should be seen full size!)

 

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I don't know why, but I hadn't expected so many elephants in the Mara. We spent some time with this family group.

 

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The young ones always delight.

 

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Oh and yes there were giraffes--I don't think I've posted any giraffes yet! (This photo was actually from earlier that morning.)

 

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A bird I also forgot to post from the morning, this Pied Crow joined us at our breakfast stop.

 

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And one can never photograph too many LBRs, especially when they pose with a nice background.

 

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We ended the day with sundowners under this giant fig tree. Its so well known, its even marked on the Mara Reserve map as "Fig Tree." The only lens I had that was wide enough to capture it in its (near) entirety was my iPhone! This tree was huge!

 

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Shortly after this, the rain rolled in...so no sunset shots this night.

 

 

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That first photo in #119 is almost enough to convince me to go to the Mara during the migration.  I'm not terribly up for the crossings, but to see masses of different species coexisting as far as the eye can see like that is awe-inspiring.  I remember it like that in Ndutu on my first safari, but can't recall seeing elephants in the mix like you captured. Lovely LBR too.

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@amybatt yes exactly what I was saying...there's so much more to the migration than just the crossings! And that was just such a beautiful spot. I can't recall ever seeing elephants mixed in with wildebeest either! It was such an idyllic scene. I just may print that for my wall.

 

Well I'm away for the weekend so there will be a hiatus in this report for a few days...giving everyone a chance to catch up. :)  When I return, I'll continue with our crossing experience...and a few more highlights from the Triangle (think...spots...big spots and little spots...and spots of varied shapes!) Oh, and some unbearable cuteness!

 

 

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great elephant and wildebeest shot - normally the elephants stay away from the migration herds because of the flies!

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I should have chimed in well before this to say how much I'm enjoying this trip report -- so let me go ahead and do so now, while you are on hiatus! I suspect that I would not be a big fan of migration watching, so I am loving hearing your pro & con thoughts on the matter. Your excellent photographs really help to tell the story as well, and the shot of all the plains game together really is magnificent.

 

I also really appreciate that you included a map of the area -- I'm very fond of maps myself. And I'm very exited about the idea of more spotted animals to come ...

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Oh my, that's a lot of vehicles at those crossing points.  Don't think I would like that!

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Really enjoying your trip report! All those beautiful cats :) Even the ones having a fight.....what a sighting that was.

I don't think I have ever heard of the Mara not deiivering and it certainly lived up to its billing for you.

Beautiful stunning photos.

But all those cars around the crossings. Yikes! I'm sure it wasn't that busy in the Serengeti when I saw crossings there. Maybe that is the Kenyan side of the Mara for you: many more cars. I think I would have left way before you did. Not an enjoyable experience (if crossings and all they entail can be enjoyable)

Looking forward to the rest of the trip and more of your stunning photography.

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